The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Sports

February 5, 2013

Seelman settles in as Sunnehanna golf professional

JOHNSTOWN — When Carl Seelman looks through the windows from the pro shop at Sunnehanna Country Club, he sees an unusual site.

Snow.

And lots of it.

Seelman, the new head golf professional at Sunnehanna, isn’t accustomed to these wintry conditions.

The 43-year-old learned the finer points of playing in Hawaii. He golfed for the University of Hawaii. Seelman was once paired with Phil Mickelson – an alum of the Sunnehanna Amateur – at the Optimist Junior World Championship, which was held at Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego. He worked as a first assistant at Pinehurst National in North Carolina, which has been a site for the U.S. Open, PGA Championship and the Ryder Cup. He was the head golf pro at Las Vegas Country Club.

That’s not exactly a list of cold-weather locales.

“I’m very new to snow. Growing up in Hawaii, I didn’t have to deal with it,” Seelman said Monday. “I was out cleaning off my car. I cleaned off the windows, cleaned off the roof and saw that I had to clean off the windows again, but I’m learning. I shoveled the driveway and felt a wonderful sense of accomplishment.”

While Seelman is adjusting to winter weather, he won’t need much time to gain familiarity with the history of Sunnehanna Country Club – the site of the Sunnehanna Amateur. A quick stroll through the clubhouse showcases the event’s history, as photographs of the game’s legends like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson adorn the walls.

The Sunnehanna Amateur was a big reason why the job, which was held the previous 30 years by Joe Shorto, whom Seelman has already held multiple conversations with, attracted his attention.

“The Sunnehanna Amateur is a world-renowned event. … I’ve known about Sunnehanna for a long time,” Seelman said. “In golf, it’s a household name.”

And the branches of the Sunnehanna Amateur extend just about everywhere.

While Seelman worked at Las Vegas Country Club, one of the regulars was Don Cherry – an American pop singer in the 1950s who happened to be one of the top amateur golfers of his time. Cherry won the Sunnehanna Amateur in 1954.

“Here’s the first winner of Sunnehanna and I knew of his great record as a singer and a player. He had the lead at the Masters with nine holes to go and at the U.S. Open with nine holes to go,” Seelman said. “He never talked about Sunnehanna, so I had no idea he played here until I got here. As soon as I found out, I called and talked to his wife Francine. He’s not feeling very well right now but his wife said he was thrilled I was here.”

Seelman drew the attention of Sunnehanna Country Club thanks to his strong background in the sport, which includes being the associate golf professional at Farmington Country Club in Virginia.

“Carl was selected over many qualified candidates because of his reputation in the golf industry, his passion and enthusiasm to grow the game of golf, his teaching abilities and his distinct leadership qualities,” said Don Zolnosky, general Manager/Chief Operating Officer of Sunnehanna Country Club.

Seelman is just starting his second week of full-time duty at Sunnehanna and, despite the weather, things couldn’t be any busier.

Besides working on the golf calendar – the Sunnehanna Amateur is scheduled for 14-16 according to Seelman – and getting to know members of the club, Seelman hopes to strengthen junior and women’s golf program and hold more events for senior golfers. The pro shop is under renovation and a few course alterations are in the works.

“I have high goals for Sunnehanna. This is a golf shrine with an almost undescribable history,” Seelman said. “I’m looking forward to finding out about the culture and becomeing a part of it.”

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